Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Golf Courses and Playgrounds and Coronavirus

The following is an open letter by Andrew Laska to the City of Richardson. Laska has lived in Richardson for decades. He served five years as President of the Richardson Heights Neighborhood Association and four years on Richardson’s Environmental Advisory Commission.


Sherrill Park, 3/26/2020. Photographer anonymous.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The English Game (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The English Game (TV 2020): The FA Cup in the 1880s, cotton millworkers vs Old Etonians, with class warfare, mill strikes, and a lot of romantic melodrama by Julian Fellowes. Predictable storyline and subplots but if you liked Downton Abbey, you'll like this. B-

Sunday, March 29, 2020

When Can We Start to Relax?

According to FiveThirtyEight.com, expert medical estimates of the number of Covid-19 deaths that we can expect in the US range between 36,000 and 1.1 million. Dr. Fauci, a member of President Trump's coronavirus task force, issued his own estimate of between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths, which is in that same range. The biggest variable in determining which end of the estimates prove true is our own behavior. Will we be more like Dallas County or more like Collin County? Will we have the fortitude to keep stay-at-home measures in place long enough?

Friday, March 27, 2020

Tiger King (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Tiger King (TV 2020): Grudge between exotic big cat zookeepers turns into true crime story of arson, a missing husband and murder-for-hire. Bigger than life low life characters starring a "gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet," a tiger lover and reality TV star wannabe. B+

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Conventional Wisdom Gets Whiplash

Conventional wisdom is getting whipped around by this pandemic. Remember in January, when China was first getting locked down because of coronavirus? Conventional wisdom (and by conventional wisdom I mean the Trump administration) said China's loss would be America's gain. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said, "I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America." Could coronavirus hurt America in any way? In the same interview, Ross said, "I think it’s almost physically impossible for there to be a recession this year." When you put an out-of-touch grifter in a responsible government position, you get what you should expect, political hackery, not expertise. Unless you live under a rock, you know where this goes next.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Fist Bumps


It's too early to predict what permanent changes COVID-19 will bring to life in America. Personally, I don't think I'll be shaking hands ever again. For years already, I've substituted fist bumps for hand shakes, but going forward I don't think even fist bumps are a good practice in a world of infectious disease. Right now, my favorite is the Namaste prayer hands with a head bow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Look Back at Peru

From 2019 08 20 Machu Picchu

As we say goodbye to Peru and all of its wonderful and surprising experiences, this photo-of-the-day shows the main reason why we went to Peru in the first place. It's the classic photo every tourist takes of Machu Picchu. But this photo is not today's photo-of-the-day. Today's photo-of-the-day is after the jump. It shows the spot where the classic photo in everyone's vacation snapshots is taken. It's called the Guardhouse and it overlooks Machu Picchu from above. The photo shows one tourist posing just like we did in the photo above and it shows the queue of tourists patiently waiting their turn for their own photo.

Click to see the real photo-of-the-day.

Monday, March 23, 2020

POTD: Last Look at Puno

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Puno, Peru. It shows the city climbing the hillside on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

After the jump, a view from the city of our hotel across a bay of Lake Titicaca. It's the white building all by itself on the shore. I now claim that is an example of prudent social distancing, not inappropriate classism.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Glitter

Do you know how glitter can be annoyingly hard to get rid of? Attend a wedding where glitter is thrown on the bride and you'll be finding glitter yourself, in your hair, in your clothes, in your carpet at home far from the church. It doesn't matter if you weren't in the wedding party and weren't throwing the glitter yourself. If you attend the wedding, chances are that you will go home with glitter. That's how I like to think viruses behave. They just aren't as visible as glitter. Treat social distancing like you don't want to go home with glitter.

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018): Alcoholic hits rock bottom when he's paralyzed in a drunken crash. Movie shows his climb back up, thanks to his sponsor at AA, Lao-Tzu, and cartooning. Joaquin Phoenix in another unforgettable role. Jonah Hill's best work. B-

Saturday, March 21, 2020

"Stakeholders" Over Residents, Part 411

My Facebook feed is usually an endless scroll of coyote and bobcat sightings ("Bring your pets inside!"), loose dogs ("Does anyone recognize this cutie?"), strange sounds ("Was that a gunshot?), traffic enforcement ("A black SUV just ran a stop sign!"), and, especially recently, shopping advice ("Does anyone know where to find toilet paper?").

But today was different. It's a personal appeal that shows that in a time of uncontrolled pandemic, daily life struggles go on. In this case, a tenant's fight with a landlord. This might be a warning sign of a larger issue in Richardson. Main Street in historic downtown is being repaved by the city, in part a gift to a major private redevelopment there scheduled to break ground this summer (Gateway to Core Richardson).
"Richardson lacks a walkable district where people can spend hours and be entertained," said Manasseh Durkin, president of Durkin Properties, one of several private partners in the effort to revitalize Main. "Our hope is that the Core District fills that void."
You know what "revitalization" has usually meant elsewhere. The people there already have to go. They have to make way for progress. That brings us to today's story from two blocks east of the renewal, where the evictions are apparently underway, by hook or by crook.

Friday, March 20, 2020

POTD: Little Llamas

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Umayo Lake near Puno, Peru. This time, the attraction is little llamas. And, of course, the obligatory woman's hat. Women of Peru have the world's best hats.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

POTD: Umayo Lake

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Umayo Lake near Puno, Peru. Umayo is an impressive sized lake by itself, but it's nowhere near the size of nearby Lake Titicaca, so no one knows anything about it. The vantage point for the photo was the pre-Inca Sillustani cemetery. What a view for eternity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Peterloo (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Peterloo (2019): Cavalry massacre of a peaceful crowd petitioning for the right to vote in Manchester in 1819. Lots of speeches and too little character development, but sets and costumes and cinematography are great. Its story is important. Voting rights is our fight today. B-

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

POTD: Sillustani Chullpas

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Sillustani, a pre-Incan cemetery on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno, Peru. The tombs are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Monday, March 16, 2020

POTD: Sillustani Rowboats

From 2019 08 18 Sacred Valley, Peru

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Sillustani, a pre-Incan cemetery on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno, Peru. More photos to come of the cemetery itself. This first photo is not that. It's only a pretty picture of rowboats.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

POTD: Llama, Llama, Twice a Llama

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the countryside around Puno, Peru. It's a herd of llamas, of course. As our time in Peru is winding down, it's time to sing that Llama Song one more time.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

POTD: Birds Eye View of Puno

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the main road descending into Puno, Peru, the largest city on Lake Titicaca (out of sight to the left). At 12,500 feet, it is the highest city in Peru and one of the highest in the world. It may not be much to look at from this vantage, but it's still a great place to visit.

After the jump, the bird itself.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Emma. (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Emma. (2020): Young matchmaker for clueless aristocrats thinks it's all fun until hearts start breaking. Stoic looks, penetrating gazes, private smiles, and hidden meanings. Who would guess a 200 year old Jane Austen novel would be the source for the year's best rom-com? B+

Thursday, March 12, 2020

POTD: Mother and Child and the Cathedral de Puno

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Cathedral de Puno in Peru

Bonus closeup photo after the jump.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

POTD: Puno Woman

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Puno, Peru. Like I've said before, the women of Peru have the best hats in the world.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Enterprise City vs Pre-K

It's old news by now, but a few weeks ago, word leaked to the Canyon Creek community that the Richardson ISD was thinking about doing something to Enterprise City — eliminating it, moving it, updating it — something. And you know how it works — any change is usually received by the community as bad news. The rumor mill said that as RISD expands its Pre-K offering, it's looking to use the space currently devoted to Enterprise City at Canyon Creek Elementary School. Pre-K vs Enterprise City. Letting the story be framed that way was an own goal by RISD.

Monday, March 9, 2020

POTD: Puno Street

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Puno, Peru. Its downtown is pleasantly walkable. Perfect for popping in for roasted guinea pig. We chose the next item down on the menu: pizza.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

We Are AYA


Barista and Freelance Actor, Age 24

"The Association of Young Americans represents you. It’s time we take a seat at the decision table."

The Baby Boomers were young once. They marched in the streets...for an end to the war, for civil rights, for women's rights, for the environment. They're old now and no longer marching (mostly). Sigh. But reportedly, young Americans still exist.

Apparently, they now start lobbying groups for baristas and freelance actors with slogans like, "Fight for your future and save money." You see, when AYA isn't lobbying, it's saving you money. "Because we know that life is expensive for young people, we’ve negotiated exclusive discounts on products and services that might make things a little easier."

I double checked. This is not from The Onion.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

POTD: Selfie with the Tourist

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Lake Titicaca, Peru. It shows two local children demonstrating excellent selfie-taking proficiency with an unidentified tourist.

Friday, March 6, 2020

POTD: Reed Boats of Lake Titicaca

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Lake Titicaca. The indigenous people of the Uros islands get around the lake on totora reed boats. Or they used to. They certainly ferry the tourists around on them today. I can't say how much of their own travel is still by reed boat as opposed to the aluminum rowboat, some with outboard motors.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

POTD: Sewing on the Uros Islands

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from a floating Uros island on Lake Titicaca, Peru. Besides showing off the handicrafts that the islanders sell to tourists, the photo also shows off some more mighty fan hats worn by the women in Peru.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Souvenir (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Souvenir (2019): Student filmmaker and her sketchy boyfriend. He exploits her and she apologizes too much. Instead, run away! Movie has an arty look and feel. Lots of long takes with mirrors and windows and reflections. See the movie poster. It all feels pretentious. C-

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

POTD: Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Lake Titicaca, Peru, the 120 mile long lake at an altitude of 12,500 feet. Specifically, the floating Uros Islands on that lake. For reasons that are lost to history, the people of Uros cut the tatora reeds that grow in the lake and bind them into bales that they lash together into huge mats that form the floating islands that they live on.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Random Thoughts: Parasite's Oscar is Deserved

Tweets from February, 2020:
  • 2020-02-10: Parasite's Oscar is deserved, but it's going to set a lot of people up for disappointment. People who now go see it for first time and come away thinking, "OK it's good, but it doesn't live up to the hype." It's rare for any movie to live up to the hype of winning "Best Picture."
  • 2020-02-12: Expect Trump to lose interest in Hunter Biden after New Hampshire results.
  • 2020-02-14: Men Without Women: Stories: Collection by magical realism author Haruki Murakami. Only this collection, with one exception, is mostly based in realism. Tales of men and women, men with women, and in a deeper way, the impact on men being without women. B-
  • 2020-02-15: Richardson Eagles knock off #1 Duncanville in overtime. #txhshoops

After the jump, more random thoughts.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Green Shoots for "Tree the Town"


Amir Omar, former city council member and force behind "Tree the Town", hosted a small event Saturday designed to bring together interested individuals to update them on a new tree-planting initiative and brainstorm ways to involve the community.

For a profile of Amir Omar and "Tree the Town", see the recent feature article by Lauren Decker in Richardson Living magazine, "T3: New Life With Deep Roots". For some of the history, see the archives of "The Wheel". Going forward, follow what the new initiative is up to and hopefully get involved yourself by following the Facebook page "Tree the Town".

After the jump, more about "Tree the Town."

Saturday, February 29, 2020

POTD: Lake Titicaca

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Puno, Peru on Lake Titicaca. All I've known about Lake Titicaca, and I've known this since childhood, is that it has a great name (one that inevitably draws snickers from adolescent boys) and that it's the world's highest navigable body of water. I now know that its altitude is 12,500 feet, the lake is huge and I've seen just a small corner of it. It is the largest lake in South America. The photo is from a small bay on which is located Puno, the largest city on Lake Titicaca. That's Puno in the background.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Review: Year of the Monkey

Year of the Monkey: Stories
Amazon
From Year of the Monkey, by Patti Smith:

Open quote 

Coffee denied, I sat on the outside bench going over the edges of the night before. It was the last of three nights in a row performing at the Fillmore and I was pulling the strings off my Stratocaster when some guy with a greasy ponytail leaned over and puked on my boots. The last gasp of 2015, a spray of vomit ushering in the New Year. A good or bad sign?"

Serendipity brought this memoir by Patti Smith to me. Patti Smith is an accomplished poet, author, artist and punk rocker who, to my embarrassment, has escaped my knowledge up to now. My loss.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Call of the Wild (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Call of the Wild (2020): Disneyfied Jack London, with men less violent, dogs less abused, and wolves not very wild at all. CGI animals show Hollywood doesn't need real animals any more. If only they wouldn't give them human expressions. Still, a good family movie. B-

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

POTD: Commerce on the Altiplano

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the highway between Cuzco and Puno, Peru. It shows a roadside market at 14,222 feet. And some damn fine hats being worn by the women selling to the tourists who stop.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

POTD: Peru Rail Crossing the Altiplano

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the highway between Cuzco and Puno, Peru. Look closely. It shows a Peru Rail train crossing the high plain. The altitude here is about 14,000 feet. According to Wikipedia, "the Altiplano (Spanish for "high plain") is the area where the Andes are the widest. It is the most extensive area of high plateau on Earth outside Tibet."

Monday, February 24, 2020

POTD: Cuyeria

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the highway between Cuzco and Puno, Peru. It shows a cuyeria, or cafeteria that specializes in serving cuy, or guinea pig. Yep, it's a thing in Peru.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Walk with the Mayor: Spring Creek Nature Area

From 2020 02 22 Spring Creek Nature Area

Paul Voelker, mayor of Richardson, leads informal walking tours in Richardson on an irregular basis. February 22's tour was of the Spring Creek Nature Area, including a side tour of two small historic cemeteries in the area, including the burial place of Jacob Routh, the settler who once owned the land.

Fifteen Richardson residents joined the mayor on a beautiful Saturday afternoon for this easy walk. Be on the lookout for future walks and take advantage of this opportunity to meet the mayor and see the best that Richardson has to offer.

More photos from the walk are after the jump.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

POTD: Raqch'i Women

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Raqchi, Peru. Like I've said before, the women of Peru have the best hats in the world.

After the jump, a bonus photo of another hat style.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Honey Boy (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Honey Boy (2019): Personal story of Shia LeBeouf from child star to rehab. Raised by a bullying, alcoholic father, the surprise is not that "Otis" ends up a young adult in rehab himself but that he functioned as a child star at all. Powerful, but relentlessly depressing. B-

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020): A mobster seeking a missing diamond and others with grievances against Harley Quinn get her in big trouble. Full of violence, mostly cartoonish, it's a silly and fun look at female empowerment. Margot Robbie is a likable antihero. B-

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Willful Ignorance Runs in the Family

This site is not usually used for national politics, but I learned something about the GOP primary in north Texas that brings back memories of one of my first elections in Texas. So bear with me as I remember Jim Collins.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

POTD: Temple of Wiracocha at Raqch'i

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Raqchi, Peru. It shows the ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha (destroyed during the Spanish Conquest, of course). At 100 yards long and 60 feet high, it's believed to have held the largest gable roof in the Inca Empire.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, February 17, 2020

POTD: Student and Teacher in Peru

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from an elementary school in Peru in a small town on the highway between Cuzco and Puno.

Photo of teacher after the jump.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

POTD: Elementary School in Peru

From 2019 08 23 Puno

Today's photo-of-the-day is from an elementary school in Peru in a small town on the highway between Cuzco and Puno. Ellen soon made friends and easily slipped into teacher mode despite the language barrier.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

POTD: Dancing Two Miles High

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. Ellen was taken to the dance floor by...some kind of masked creatures. Ellen had fun and did a great job of dancing, even though afterwards she complained that there's not enough oxygen at 11,200 feet for such nonsense.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Review: Men Without Women: Stories

Men Without Women: Stories
Amazon
From Men Without Women: Stories, by Haruki Murakami:

Open quote 

The call came in after one a.m. and woke me up. Phones ringing in the middle of the night always sound harsh and grating, like some savage metal tool out to destroy the world."

So begins the title story of Haruki Murakami's collection of short stories. Murakami is one of my favorite authors, whether writing epic tales or short stories. These stories are about men and women, men with women, and especially in a deeper way, the impact on men being without women.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Grade Shift Coming to RISD

When Richardson ISD shifted ninth-graders from junior high to high school over a decade ago, there was much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over the perceived lack of readiness for these children to survive the rough and tumble environment with older kids in high school. But it happened anyway and no one I know is advocating we should move the ninth-graders back to the junior high. Now, a decade later, RISD seems likely to finish the job by shifting sixth-graders to the junior highs, now to be called middle schools. It makes a lot of sense, and not just for the reasons RISD is willing to talk about.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

POTD: Standoff with a Llama

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. You'll have to ask Ellen what the standoff was over. And who won.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

POTD: Saqsaywaman

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. It shows the ruins of Saqsaywaman (sort of rhymes with Sexy Woman, the other subject of the photo). The ruins date back to about 1100, that is before the Inca Empire. It's usually described as a fortress, but its large plaza also appears to have been a site for ceremonial activities.

Monday, February 10, 2020

POTD: Thoreau in Peru

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. It shows one of my favorite quotations, this one by Henry David Thoreau, carved into a slice of tree trunk. I hope ironically.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

POTD: Plaza de Armas de Cusco

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, Peru. Big churches, basilicas and cathedrals dominate the plaza, signaling the Spanish conquest. Today, four centuries later, they stand in easy relationship with a statue of Pachacuti in the center of the plaza. Pachacuti was the ninth ruler of the Kingdom of Cusco who expanded the Inca Empire to a big part of western South America.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

POTD: Tex-Mex in Peru

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. Peruvians might still have a fondness for guinea pig on special occasions. And Peruvian cuisine might be making a name for itself in world gastronomy circles. But don't count out Tex-Mex.


Friday, February 7, 2020

POTD: Qorikancha

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. It shows the courtyard of the Church of Santo Domingo, built on the site of an Inca temple called Qorikancha. In Peru as everywhere, the victors try to erase the vanquished.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

POTD: Peruvian Cuisine

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. If television can be believed, Peruvian cuisine is making a name for itself in world gastronomy. If our own meal here is an indication, that growing reputation is deserved (Peruvians' fondness for guinea pig notwithstanding).

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

POTD: Cemetery Mural

From 2019 08 21 Cuzco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cuzco, Peru. Someone recently said they'd like to see more public murals in Richardson, Texas. Up your game, Richardson. This mural is on a cemetery wall in Cuzco.

Bonus photo after the jump.